Rainbow Mountain, located in Peru, is arguably one of the country's most popular attractions following Machu Picchu. It's easy to see why this mountain was named as such, but that doesn't take away from what an incredible experience it is to see in person. Challenging hiking tours to this mountain will get tourists up close, and many have questions when it comes to its incredibly colorful nature.
The mountain is colored by minerals that can be found in the sediment that makes up its rock layers, giving it multiple hues. Depending on the time of the day and the season, these colors can look slightly different, giving this mountain an ever-changing, unique appearance year-round. Here are some more facts travelers should know before visiting this amazing natural landmark.
10 What, Exactly, Gives Rainbow Mountain Its Numerous Colors?
There are five main colors that visitors notice when visiting Rainbow Mountain: pink, yellow, turquoise, red, and brown. These are accounted for by the various minerals that reflect the same hues, including red clay, mud, sand, iron, quartz, sandstone, phyllite compounds, magnesium, sulfur, and limestone. Together, these minerals create an array of colors that can be seen in layers on the mountain.
9 Rainbow Mountain Actually Has Multiple Names
While Rainbow Mountain is how this mountain is most well-known, it actually goes by multiple names. Since Peru is a multicultural country with Spanish, Quechua, and Aymara-speaking people, it is called different things depending on the language and the region. Some of its well-known Peruvian names are: la montaña de colors, la montaña arcoíris, cerro colorado, la montaña de los 7 colores, Vinicunca, and Winikunka.
8 It's Definitely Not Hot At The Top
When people think of South America, they typically associate its weather with being warmer than that of North America or anywhere north of the equator. However, Rainbow Mountain has proved that this is certainly not true for every region, and definitely not at its summit. Those hiking Rainbow Mountain are often surprised to know that it's actually pretty cold at the top - falling to temperatures as low as the low 30s (Fahrenheit).
7 Global Warming Played A Role In The Discovery Of This Mountain's Colors
While the mountain itself has been part of the landscape for centuries and centuries, its rainbow colors were not seen until recently. In 2012, melting snow and ice came down from the mountain, which revealed its incredible colors to the surrounding region. This led it to become the world's first truly 'rainbow' mountain, as the colors at its summit were exposed after being hidden from sight for so long.
6 There's A Surprising Amount Of Wildlife At The Top Of This Mountain
Those traversing the trails to reach the summit of this mountain might be surprised to see signs of wildlife at the top, aside from the typical alpacas and llamas. Along with these fuzzy friends, travelers may also find skunks, foxes, huallatas, deer, partridges, vizcachas, osqollos, and condors.
5 Weather Will Affect The Colors That Appear
Just like any other landscape, the weather often has an effect on the colors that appear at the top of Rainbow Mountain. Certain minerals can change in hue depending on whether it's raining or snowing, or if the light is bright one day or dull from clouds the next. This is why the mountain always appears to change in color, even though it's usually just weather or light-created illusion.
4 Speaking Of The Weather, It Can Change Often And Suddenly
The weather at such high altitudes as this one is known to change frequently and often without warning. That means hikers might be leaving on what appears to be a perfectly sunny day, while a rainstorm might roll in hours later and vice versa. While travelers can get an idea of what weather to expect when visiting Rainbow Mountain, they should also always be prepared for anything.
3 The Altitude Can Cause Some Side Effects
Many people don't realize that the altitude of Rainbow Mountain - 17,060 feet - can cause symptoms of altitude sickness. This means that those who hike to the top, and even those who are only visiting the communities around it, might be prone to dizziness, nausea, and other symptoms of altitude sickness. The best way to avoid this is to acclimate to the altitude appropriately.
2 Horseback Riding Is An Option On Rainbow Mountain
For those who are worried about hiking to the top, or hiking at all, at such an altitude, there is another option: horseback. Visitors have the option to pay for horseback rides to the top, which might be worth it for those who would rather not go it on foot. This is a popular option for newcomers and those who are not used to the terrain.
1 Rainbow Mountain Is Home To Other Things
While its colorful summit is the main reason that most people visit Rainbow Mountain, it is home to other natural features. These include nearby hot springs, local villages that are worth experiencing, and the Ausangate Glacier. All of these are worthy of seeing on a trip to Rainbow Mountain, and can easily fit into one's itinerary.